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Popcorn, Ginger and Chilli Brownies
September 2023
Reading time 1 Minute

A brownie is foolproof date food. Nearly everyone likes them and most importantly, they're ideal for sharing on the sofa

As befits a tool of seduction, these are graduates of the decadently fudgy school of brownie, but I've turned up the heat with ginger and chilli and added popcorn for a movie night feel. Ancho chilli bring a gentle, fruity heat, but you can use normal chilli (just use half as much) or leave it out.
  • 200g unsalted butter, chopped into rough cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids), roughly broken into pieces
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 80g crunchy toffee popcorn, such as Butterkist
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 60g plain flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 60g stem ginger, chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup from the jar
  • ½ small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20cm square tin with a little butter and line with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook, stirring, until smooth and melted. Take off the heat, add the sugars and stir until smooth. Set aside and let cool for at least five minutes.

Meanwhile, put the popcorn into a plastic bag, and bash roughly with the end of a rolling pin, so you have some bigger and some smaller chunks.

Add the eggs to the chocolate mix and stir until glossy and combined. Sift over the flour, cocoa powder and salt, add the chilli flakes, and gently fold together. Fold in the stem ginger and syrup and most of the popcorn. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining popcorn on top, pressing them into the batter slightly. Bake for 45–50 minutes (cover with foil after 20 minutes if it looks like the popcorn is catching), until set on top and there’s no movement; a skewer inserted will still come out rather wet. Leave the brownies cool before slicing. Scatter over the red chilli before serving, if liked. Offer to your date with ice cream and a smile.

The Brownie Diaries by Leah Hyslop (Bloomsbury Absolute, £14.99). Photography by Lauren Mclean.

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